Trump Wants to Know if Boeing’s Okay
U.S. President Donald Trump called Boeing Co. to ask Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg about the company’s health, the day before the planemaker said it would suspend production of the grounded 737 Max, a person familiar with the matter said.
Muilenburg assured Trump that any potential stoppage would be temporary and there would be no layoffs, the person said, who asked not to be identified. Trump expressed concern about the health of the company on the call, which lasted 10 minutes, and whether Muilenburg was doing well, the person said.
Boeing on Monday announced plans to halt production of its Max in January, a move that will deepen the crisis engulfing the company. The timing of regulatory approval for the return of the jet, which has been grounded since March, has slipped repeatedly and remains uncertain with Boeing’s relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration in tatters.
Trump also asked about the progress of the software fix for the Max, which is still being tested by regulators in the U.S. and overseas, the person said. Muilenburg said Boeing has a fix ready, the person said.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment and a Boeing representative in Singapore didn’t answer a call seeking comment. The New York Times was first to report on Trump’s call to Muilenburg.
The decision to halt production is based on such considerations as “the extension of certification into 2020, the uncertainty about the timing and conditions of return to service and global training approvals, and the importance of ensuring that we can prioritize the delivery of stored aircraft,” Boeing said in a statement Monday.
The production decision became more urgent after the FAA signaled it wouldn’t certify the revamped Max this year as Boeing had anticipated. The company repeatedly warned earlier this year that it would have to reconsider its Max output plans if the grounding extended into 2020.
Regulators halted Max flights worldwide after an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed in March, the second tragedy within five months. The disasters combined killed 346 people.
The company isn’t allowed to deliver the Max while the grounding remains in place. Boeing said Monday it has about 400 airplanes in storage.
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